In all sectors of the remodeling industry, both commercial and residential, shortages of skilled labor continue to have a profoundly negative effect on business.
AGC/Autodesk. Around 80% of construction firms report having a hard time filling hourly craft positions, according to the results from a survey conducted by software company Autodesk and the Associated General Contracts of America (AGC). Despite many firms taking a range of steps from increasing pay and benefits to adding new training programs, the skilled-labor shortage continues to impact most contractors nationwide.
"Workforce shortages remain one of the single most significant threats to the construction industry," said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC's CEO. "However, construction labor shortages are a challenge that can be fixed, and this association will continue to do everything in its power to make sure that happens."
Nearly three-fourths of the 2,000 survey respondents indicated it will continue to be hard or become even harder to find hourly craft workers over the next 12 months. One of the primary reasons contractors are worried about finding skilled workers is that they are skeptical of the quality of the pipeline for recruiting, according to the AGC. Forty-five percent of respondents said the local pipeline for preparing well-trained and skilled workers is poor and more than a quarter said the pipeline for finding workers who can pass a drug test is poor.
As a result of the labor shortage, many firms have boosted pay and compensation at their companies. Two-thirds of firms reported increasing base pay rates and around 30% report providing incentives and bonuses to attract craft workers. Additionally, almost half of the contractor respondents said they launched or expanded in-house training programs or involvement with career-building programs. Almost 40% of firms reported investing in technology to supplement worker duties, and one in four firms reported using "cutting-edge solutions," such as drones, robots, or 3-D printers.
NAHB Remodelers. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers, 85% of remodelers reported shortages of workers available to perform finished or rough carpentry, and nearly half (45%) classified the shortage of finished carpenters as serious.
"The labor shortage continues to be one of the top concerns for remodelers across the country," said NAHB Remodelers Chair Tim Ellis, CAPS, CGP, CGR, GMR, Master CGP, a remodeler from Bel Air, Md. "An ongoing challenge for remodelers is keeping their prices competitive while dealing with the increasing costs of labor."
The NAHB reports that most common effects of the shortages have been remodelers paying higher wages, which may be working to retain workers and perhaps shift perceptions.
"Working in the remodeling industry provides job security and high wages," said Ellis. "NAHB is attempting to change the stigma of working in the trades by increasing awareness to teens and parents, and providing them with education and the skills they need to succeed."
But paying higher wages, the organization also claims, is forcing remodelers to raise prices and making it difficult to complete projects on time. While perhaps not intended in the NAHB or AGC comments, the degree to which companies and consumers are able to accept these impacts may be the price we as a society need to pay to show young workers they are valued.